Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


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Japanese Migration and the Americas: An Introduction to the Study of Migration

Full Unit

Author
Gary Mukai - Stanford University

Published
1999 (89 pages)

For Secondary students.


Migration is a social phenomenon that has affected the lives of all of the students in our classrooms either directly or indirectly. Tales of population movements have become a shared part of our global heritage throughout history and will inevitably remain a valuable magnifying glass through which we can better understand interactions between the United States and other nations, racial and ethnic groups, and diverse cultures.

People migrate for diverse reasons. One approach to the study of migration argues that individuals are influenced by a number of "push-pull" factors, which encourage them to leave their place of origin while simultaneously pulling them toward a new destination. Although the push-pull framework can explain many types of migrations, it cannot explain all of the reasons people choose to migrate to a specific city, region, or country.

This curriculum module introduces students to the study of migration, including a brief overview of some categories of migration and reasons why people migrate. In this introductory study, the Japanese migration experience in the Americas is used as a case study. Students will be introduced to categories of migration such as rural-urban migration, urban-urban migration, cyclical migration, forced migration, return migration, remigration, and U-turn migration. Case studies of migration will be drawn from the Japanese experience in the United States, Peru, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. A brief history of the Japanese experience in each of these countries will be presented to students, and students will engage in small group activities that focus on a migration-related event. These activities are structured around the theory of multiple intelligences.

Ethnic Studies

Many states recommend the teaching of ethnic studies at the high school level. The History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, for example, includes ethnic studies in the grade nine course of study:

Students should understand the national origins of American ethnic groups. They should study the social, economic, and political forces that caused people to come to America. They should gain insights into the barriers that various ethnic groups have had to overcome in the past and present. They should learn about the opportunities these groups encountered and the contributions made by each to American society. (p. 83)

By offering students a brief overview of the Japanese experience in the United States in addition to other countries in the Americas, this curriculum module can be used as a supplement to courses on American ethnic groups as well as offering students a unique look at the experiences of an ethnic group in other countries.

Small Group Activities

The following is a brief summary of the activities contained in this module.

Activity #1

This activity presents a brief overview of the Japanese experience in the United States. Students draw illustrations that encourage them to consider the international migration experience of early Japanese immigrant men and women in California and their experience with marriage. Students utilize two primary sources: a comic strip drawn by a Japanese immigrant man in San Francisco in the early 20th century, and documents of a picture bride who came to the United States in 1913.

Activity #2

This activity presents a brief overview of the Japanese experience in Peru. Students write a letter that examines the forced migration of Japanese Peruvians to U.S. internment camps during World War II.

Activity #3

This activity presents a brief overview of the Japanese experience in Brazil. Students write a poem or song lyrics based on personal stories of the U-turn migration by Japanese Latin Americans.

Activity #4

This activity presents a brief overview of the Japanese experience in Canada. Students engage in a role play that offers them a glimpse into the lives of five Japanese whose lives were affected by the Japanese immigrant experience in Canada.

Activity #5

This activity presents a brief overview of the Japanese experience in Mexico. Students engage in analyzing and drawing artwork based on the experience of Japanese Mexicans as expressed through their literature and art.

Activity #6

This activity presents a brief overview of the Japanese experience in Argentina. Students analyze statistics about Japanese immigrants in Argentina.

Activity #7

This activity presents a brief overview of the Japanese experience in Bolivia. Students write a speech or plan a documentary based on autobiographical sketches by Japanese immigrants in Bolivia.

Activity #8

This activity presents a brief overview of the Japanese experience in Paraguay. Students write a letter to the editor regarding Japanese education in Paraguay.

Hyphenation

In this unit, terms like "Japanese American" or "Japanese Mexican" are hyphenated when used as adjectives, e.g., Japanese-American internment or Japanese-Mexican art. Otherwise, they are left unhyphenated.

Module Goals

The following reflect goals for the curriculum module as a whole.

In this curriculum unit, students will:

  • learn about basic theories of migration
  • develop a basic understanding of categories of migration
  • consider how migration has affected their lives
  • consider reasons why people migrate
  • become familiar with the Japanese migration experience in the Americas
  • learn to think critically and make informed opinions
  • evaluate different opinions and generate alternative perspectives on an issue
  • learn tools to enhance awareness and communication
  • work effectively in small and large groups
  • organize and express opinions